Earth Simulator visualisation tools

Ive just caught up with last years “Journal of the Earth Simulator” which has a fascinating paper about the visualisation tools they are developing.

Visualizations of Large-scale Data Generated by the Earth Simulator by Fumiaki Araki, Hitoshi Uehara, Nobuaki Ohno, Shintaro Kawahara, Mikito Furuichi and Akira Kageyama, describes
– MovieMaker, “a parallel rendering software for generating sequential image files from large scale simulation data of the order of 1TB”,
– VFIVE, “a virtual reality (VR) visualization software for a CAVE-type VR system”.

The paper includes several images of the results, mostly applied to climatic modelling. There are two main problems: the size of the data, and its complexity.

On size: “Let us, for example, consider a typical size of output data produced by a simulation on the Earth Simulator. The data has spatial three-dimensional (3D) and timevarying structures, and contains several variables for several hundred time-steps. Even a single variable for only one time-step has a few giga bytes (GB), implying that the total output data amounts to the order of tera bytes (TB). Such large data can be hardly handled by commercially available visualisation tools…”

On complexity: “The second difficulty lies in how one can extract and grasp hidden featuring characteristics of highly-complicated structures in a high-resolution 3D simulation data. The difficulty becomes more prominent for higher resolution of simulation data.”

VFIve is particularly interesting: it is “an interactive visualization program … designed to make the best use of the immersive, stereoscopic, and interactive VR environment….[and>…enables a viewer to literally “enter” into a virtual 3D space. The viewer can “walk” in the virtual space and “interact” with any object virtually existing there. Thus, by applying VR technology in scientific visualization, the simulation data can be analyzed in a more interactive and intuitive manner.” There are several images of this system in action.

Its a dream, of course – a system that will make everything visually clear, striking to the heart of complex data. But it already works at a lesser scale – eg 3D visualisations of siesmographic data used in oil exploration. This is just going one step further. I go back to my image of Galileos telescope: who knows what new insights will emerge from these technologies in the next ten years?

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